THERE’S no mystery to Shane Lowry.
In a sport where corporate logos are plastered over every spare inch of sartorial real estate, the Clara man wears his heart on his sleeve.
If you are wondering how Lowry is playing, just look at his face and his bearing.
Coming down the 72nd hole in The Open at Royal Portrush with a six-shot lead, he was radiant. After a 74 at Mount Juliet last Saturday, he was despondent only to pep up again on Sunday with an immaculate closing 66.
Now it’s time to go and defend the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s and Lowry heads to Kent feeling confident in his chances of becoming the first man since Pádraig Harrington in 2008 to retain The Open.
He might have just five victories on his CV but they have all been monumental in their scope.
His 2009 Irish Open as an amateur remains one of the greatest performances ever seen on the European Tour and after backing it up with victory in the Portugal Masters in 2012, he won the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and set the tone for that magical 2019 with his first Rolex Series win in Abu Dhabi.
“Yeah, I think if I can get there, I can do it,” he says of his hopes next week. “Yes, I’ve only won five times in my career, but they are all big. They have all been big events and I’ve had a pretty solid career so far.
“Obviously I’d like to have more, but if you swapped me two or three of the big events for smaller ones, I wouldn’t take it.
“Look, I wouldn’t say Dustin Johnson is on the plane on the way over quaking his boots about me, but if I find myself there on Sunday, he knows I have what it takes to win the tournament.
“Golf’s funny, like, like I’m not going to Royal St George’s thinking who is a threat, who is going to be favoured this week.
“You know, you just know that out of the top-10 players in the world, probably five of them are going to show up and be in the top-10 and have a chance to win the tournament. You just need to make sure you’re one of the other five to give yourself the opportunity when it comes.”
Lowry would rather forget his visit to Royal St George’s for the 2006 Amateur Championship where he shot an 81 on the Sandwich links and failed to qualify for the matchplay.
“I haven’t got great memories there, I just remember it was very hard and I’m sure it’s going to be very hard next week,” he says. “I am obviously a bit different of a player than I was in 2006. I am looking forward to getting there on Monday morning.
“I want to get out there and do my homework and then obviously enjoy the week as defending champion but at the end of the day I’m going out there to do a job and perform as best as I can so that’s the plan.”
He might be a different player, but he’s still the same Shane Lowry who arrived in a modest Mitsubishi Colt for the 2009 Irish Open though he now works hard on his fitness, mounting a ‘Peloton’ bike in his Florida base — “Hate it. Oh, my God. It’s horrible. Most horrible piece of equipment in the world” — and even doing “clear the head” sprints with trainer Robbie Cannon in the park near his Dublin home.
“I don’t know, I still take the bad days or the tough days hard,” he admits. “I was disappointed after my third round at Mount Juliet. The good days, you know, I’m still just me. That was the one thing after The Open, because if you’d have told me the week before Portrush you’re going to win by six and all that and it was going to be great, I would have been like, will it change as a player or as a person, it probably will, a little, but I don’t know how.
“I don’t think I’ve changed at all really. I’m just me and I’ve been me for my whole career and that’s all I need to keep being. Honestly I get up every morning and I put on my clothes and go out and play.”
As for next week, he’s ready for action.
“It’s going to be nerve-wracking, special, all of the above. It’s something I’ve got to embrace, like the first tee at Portrush which was one of the most intimidating places in the world. I’m not sure it’ll be like that. It’ll be different but I’m ready for it. Look, I’ve been around. I’ve been on the Tour a long time. I think I’m ready for pretty much what anyone throws at me.”